Posted in animal death, Devastating sadness, family, Grief, happiness, life lessons, Live your best life, Uncategorized

Senior Animals Show Us How to Live Our Best Life.

I have been procrastinating during the past few months. I have all the words I want to say inside of me, yet I can’t bring myself to write them down. I have watched my dog Marley decline. He has arthritis of the hips. He will no longer climb the stairs to the third floor at Villa Migelita Ecolodge because he cannot get down those same stairs. I help him down the small stairs that reach the patio area where I feed all of the animals. I worry how he will continue to walk down any of the stairs at the Villa in the upcoming months as he grows older. As Marley continues to age it brings to mind taking care of my mother when she lived with me years ago. Animals are not so different even though they don’t get to live a long life. How I wish they could.

Marley smiling

Cats are like the comfy blanket we use when we are feeling down. They are always nearby in a spot they have picked out to be the favorite place for a while. They have their habits as we adapt to their idiosyncrasies. Dogs are the smiling faces that wag their tails when they see us. They anxiously await us when we leave the house. Cats not so much as they are such independent creatures. They show their love without a lot of fuss. Cats are insistent and determined in their show of affection. Often in the middle of the night when they decide to climb up on your body or rub a whisker on your face to startle you awake.

All animals age differently. My dog Marley doesn’t look old. He has few grey hairs, but the giveaway is arthritis in his hips. Marley walks with a hesitant gate. He is a bit crooked in his form. When sleeping, the mouth opens in a creepy grin. I often check to see if he is still breathing. Franchesca, my old tortoiseshell cat, could be found sleeping next to Marley on most days. They were friends for many years and came with me to Colombia from the United States. Franchesca passed away suddenly on Thursday. In this video, she looks healthy and very content. I don’t know what happened to Franchesca. Wednesday evening, she was with me in the kitchen talking to me. She always would meow, and I would answer with a meow. She was often in the living room relaxing when she wasn’t outside on a patio taking in the sun. When she didn’t come to the food dish on Thursday morning, I started calling for her. I found her under the small steps that lead to the first-floor patio. She looked asleep, but I knew she wasn’t. I reached in to pick her up, thinking she might be sick. She was dead. I won’t go into the details, but I broke down. She was intact without marks. She didn’t ever wander far as she had her favorite places. Usually, she was with me in the morning when I wake up. Thursday morning, she wasn’t at the end of my bed. I had my gardener bury her with a beautiful plant to mark her grave. Maybe Franchesca had an underlying condition that I was unaware of. Franchesca had a long and rewarding life with me. She was special because my deceased daughter gave her to me as a gift. Franchesca mellowed in her last years. I often would tell my guests she won’t let you pick her up or pet her and, Franchesca always proved me wrong. She was content, living her best life on my farm. I don’t think Franchesca suffered, at least I want to feel that. I want to imagine she closed her eyes and fell into an eternal sleep.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I arrived in Colombia with five animals nine years ago. I have only Marley left with me now. Each morning I see Marley smiling at me is another reminder to live my best life. Marley has no worries as he is forever happy. I want to be this way. I want to let go of the burdens I have placed on my heart. I want to feel content in every moment as our senior animals do. They have pain we don’t know about because they never complain. They enjoy each day as if they will live forever. They never appear to worry about their futures. They exist for our pleasure. We exist to receive their love, hope for a great many years together. I can only hope that Marley passes peacefully in his sleep, as I imagine Franchesca did. In the meantime, I am going to appreciate the gift Marley has given me with his beautiful spirit. I am going to grieve my Franchesca as the loss of a family member. I am going to wake up every morning with positivity and a smile. I think my animals have taught me to cherish what I have at this moment.

R.I.P. Franchesca
Posted in Colombian life, Dogo Argentino, expat life, family, farm life, friendship, photo challenge, Uncategorized

Orion the Magnificent Through the Years

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Orion my Dogo Argentino is magnificent. He was given to me by a neighbor the night before I moved to Villa Migelita.

He had 4 homes before he came to me. He is a very delicate dog, although he looks fierce. He has broken two bones, his skin is problematic and he is always needing attention by the veterinarian for some reason. Here are some of my favorite photos of Orion. He is now almost 8 years old. I have lived in Colombia since 2011. He was a young guy when I adopted him. Enjoy the beauty of Orion, my big boy.

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My Big Boy with me looking fierce

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Orion and Luci all animals at Villa Migelita Ecolodge are rescues

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Orion eyes

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Happy Orion

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Sleeping Orion

Orion and me big head
Orion with me recently

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Orion getting acupunture

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Me and the big boy

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Be Quick and Focus!

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Careful.”

On New Year’s Day 2013 my goat Mona had babies. We were not even sure she was pregnant, and she had twins! You can imagine the surprise around Villa Migelita when she went into labor. The following photos encompass how special the birth and the subsequent days were. I ended up donating the mother Mona and her two babies to a Senior Center and Drug Rehab Home. I got very tired of them eating my flowers! They also got into everything! The Home was very happy to take them as they would have fresh goats milk. I have found I have to be quick with my camera set on rapid shots in succession to get a good shot when I photograph any animal.

 

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Colombia: I have never been happier than being one with nature.

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Just checking out the cattle, and enjoying my view

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.” This photo captures all about Colombia and how nature lives with man so peacefully. This is an American Bald Eagle who for some reason has made its way down to Colombia. I will never forget stopping quickly and getting these photos of nature interacting.

My real love in life is animals in the wild. I love to see the birds that fly outside my panoramic view windows that surround my suite every morning. The sounds of their calls carry with me all day. My happy place is Villa Migelita. I worked my entire life to have this beauty that surrounds me. It is always there, I don’t worry it will leave me like it has in the USA. Colombia is still fresh with nature and rainforests. If they start building like I see in the United States, it won’t be for a long time. So, I leave you with a photo of my home. Come visit us here. We offer peace, nature, tranquility, luxury rooms, and wonderful food at amazing prices. I am on Instagram now too. Please follow me there for photos of my life as I enjoy my days. Life is amazing, I have found nirvana. You can too. Just give Colombia the chance it deserves. I have lived here for almost five years now without problem. Come see the Magical Realism of a country that is undiscovered by most travelers. You will not be disappointed.

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Villa Migelita

My final thoughts on this little eagle, he left the USA because all of his natural areas are being taken from him. Let us appreciate our wildlife; let us save the environment.

Posted in Uncategorized

Orion and the Gang of Misfits

The Veterinarian who is treating Orion is a great man. He is a man of compassion. He is a genius. He performs miracles. His little clinic in Cali is famous in the country of Colombia. He is known for saving dogs from injuries no one else will touch. He is truly a miracle worker. My dog Orion is a patient and the care he is receiving is exceptional.

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The waiting area

When I enter the clinic I see misfits, animals that look like they have survived a war. They are all around, resting on little mats after undergoing surgery, on leashes held by their owners, getting therapy in the exam rooms, or being seen by the doctor. Shaved body parts, casts, and limping are normal in this veterinary office.This clinic is not fancy. In fact it is a bit outdated. One would think walking into this office that it was nothing. I did. However, then I started talking with the people who are sitting and waiting with their wounded animals. We all share one thing: love for our four-legged children. Orion is always scared when we arrive. He hates riding in the truck. He remembers when he broke his front paw that he had to stay in a kennel and he has never gotten over it. He pants, he is restless, he shakes, and he tries to get the muzzle off that we put on him. Orion is a Dogo Argentino, a class of dog required to be muzzled. He doesn’t need to be. He is gentle and timid. He wags his tail even when scared. He allows everyone to poke and prod him, but he is so un-nerved. Orion pants and pants. Water is given to him when in therapy which he laps up. My heart breaks as I look around. There in a corner is an amputee dog, crying out, just out of surgery. Another mat has an old Chow who has lost all its hair and has dementia, but the owners cannot let go, a mini-Schnauzer with a cast on its front leg, an older Retriever with an injury on the front leg, a chocolate Lab walking pretty well on a broken leg the same as Orion which gives me hope. The little street animals brought in by compassionate people. A girl drove three hours with a puppy that had a crooked back leg. She was a street dog, probably hit by a car. This girl is a hero to me. She can’t keep the dog but is paying to have her leg fixed. She said to me she will find her a home. The dog will need to come back to see the doctor after surgery. She is willing to do this. I know there are really good people in the world when I see this sort of compassion.

I have made many friends in this little veterinary clinic. We all talk about our dogs when we see each other. We wait patiently for our turn with the therapists, and we share our war stories. Dogs bark and whine as we talk over them. We describe our dogs accomplishments since our last visit. We watch as someone new enters with an injured animal knowing all too well the journey they will be starting. First the surgery and then the recovery. We all share a common bond, a love for our four-legged child who has been horribly injured. A bell rings and Orion’s name is called. It is his turn for Acupuncture. He is drooling from nervousness. We calm him with kisses and pats. He patiently lets the doctor stick needles in him. He gets heat therapy on his bad leg, then he has to lay calmly and wait a while.

 

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Acupuncture therapy

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Orion

Orion is ready to go and he gets up and puts weight on his leg immediately after his treatment. Not a lot, but enough to let me know he will be walking normally soon. My heart is happy. We have seen Orion go from depressed with rods in his leg and a cast on the thigh, to now being able to get around quite well. He is back to his sunny disposition as soon as we settle in the car for our hour ride back home. Orion drops his head for a much needed snooze. He knows it is over for now. He can relax. When we arrive at the farm, he is greeted by his pack. They all sniff him and the strange smells he carries from the veterinary office. Orion goes and stretches out on the grass. He rolls with delight at surviving another visit with the vet, and soaks up the sun. Life is good.

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Luci and Her Tree Perch

Hike with Beeja, Luci on tree perch 018Luci has a new perch. It is a tree that was accidentally cut down. From an untimely death, this tree has been given a new life. It is now next to Luci’s cage and holds hummingbird feeders and plantains to attract wild birds to its bare branches. The fatality is partly my fault because my worker did not understand my Spanish. He is new on my farm, older and probably has never left this area of Valle de Cauca. I imagine working on a farm for an American is strange but also fascinating to him. He is a very kind old gentlemen. He works quietly all day, the dogs stay near him. I often look outside and I will see Orion next to him while he is in the vegetable garden, or Bruno Mars laying sound asleep while he prunes flowers. He has a gentle spirit that the dogs relate to. I have always had trouble with my American accent while speaking Spanish, and I even wrote a funny blog about my Spanish here. However, this  latest misunderstanding caused the death of a Quava tree that was in my garden. It was a young tree, maybe 5 years old, and was producing fruit. I felt such sadness after it was cut down. I believe trees can feel, breathe, emit sounds. Anyone need only walk in the rainforest here in Colombia and listen; the sounds are symphonic, heavenly, full of spiritual resonance. It is not just birds or insects that you will hear, you will hear the air moving through branches as they sway and twitch in a chorus of their own.

I looked out from my glass enclosed bedroom, and saw my worker was taking an ax to my tree. I yelled out, but it was too late; the tree fell along with all the fruit, scattering guava everywhere. The look on his face was horror as he realized that he was cutting the wrong tree. I had asked him to cut up a banana tree that had fallen during a rainstorm, and pointed to the tree on the ground. It is unfortunate that the Guava tree was right in the path of the banana tree. How he thought my live Guava tree should be cut down from me asking him to cut up a dead banana tree I will never know. I do know that I sometimes can’t understand someone speaking Spanish to me, and it is because they speak with a slightly different accent. I am sure he had no idea what I was saying. I wish he would have asked my maid to make sure he was doing the right thing, but he didn’t and I lost a beautiful tree. I was lethargic the rest of the day, unable to concentrate due to the sick feeling in my stomach about this unnecessary loss. I would often photograph birds on this tree, eating the fruit on the ground as they fell with ripeness. Then something happened that changed the loss into a gain, the dead tree was placed in a spot next to Luci to be useful once again.

I swear I can see Luci smiling as she explores the durable stems without leaves. Hummingbirds come to the feeders, the whir of their wings now heard on my patio. The hummingbirds are all around  Villa Migelita , but now there is a new spot to sit where they come regularly to feed. The branches also hold cut plantains to attract wild birds. This is the way we feed and attract birds here in Colombia, regular feeders filled with seed never work. Birds here have many fruits to choose from, and they will only come to fruit on a tree. I am anxiously awaiting to see my first bird come feed! This tree has also brought a change in my day; I eat lunch outside with Luci and my dogs. I sit in the afternoon studying Spanish while the hummingbirds hover nearby. What a great redemption for my Guava tree; still being used to attract birds while also allowing Luci to perch up high. I look at the beautiful scene and I smile thinking that this dead Guava tree is serving a purpose after all sending positive energy into the air, attracting life just like it did before.  The branches are bare but they still reach to the sky and call nature to its side.Hike with Beeja, Luci on tree perch 019

Posted in Uncategorized

Baby: A Story of Rescue

Baby is a twelve-year-old yellow Lab who was going to be sent to a shelter because her owner was moving and did not want to take her with him. She had lived her life with loyalty to her human but he was not showing loyalty to her. In fact, he actually never treated her as one should treat a cared for pet, he left her outside on a patio her whole life. She has scars on her body from laying on cold, hard concrete, without a bed for her comfort, not even a blanket. Yet, Baby loved the only family she knew. Her owner knew she would be put to sleep and would have surrendered her to a shelter if my dear friend Madeline had not stepped in to save her. Madeline owned the house he was renting and he had told her he was moving to another state. She asked about Baby “what were his plans for her?” Madeline is an activist in her spare time for animal rights. She is also a Delta Air Lines flight attendant and my friend of over 30 years.  She posted about a senior dog needing a loving home and I immediately offered to post it on my page Villa Migelita. If we could not find a home for her they could send her to me here in Colombia, although I knew it would be a traumatic trip as I brought a senior dog here myself when I moved from the USA to Colombia. The thought of leaving any of my animals behind never entered my mind and that is why I was so adamant to help. This blog is a story of friendship, kindness and the unified efforts of six women to save Baby and get her to her new home in Kentucky. Baby would never have had her home with Lisa her new owner, but for a series of events that led her to my page. When I put the post on my page the outpouring of heartfelt sadness and anger that someone could do this to an older animal was immediate. People shared the post, friends offered to help.  Lisa came to the thread saying without a moment’s hesitation she would take Baby into her home in Kentucky. Within a day the six of us had rescued Baby and were trying to find a way to get her to Lisa’s home in Kentucky from South Miami.

Lisa just happened to see a video I posted of a hummingbird trapped in a window here at my house in Colombia on March 25th of this year. She had a friend who had liked my video and it showed up in her news feed on Facebook. She loved this little hummingbird and the way I held it in my hand and let it go and could only think of her beloved dog Chevy who had passed recently. Lisa went to my page and saw the post about Baby being abandoned and in need of a new home. My post moved her and she wrote that she would take Baby all the while remembering what she had whispered into Chevy’s ears as he drew his last breath. “Chevy, I love you so much and will feel you close to me when the hummingbirds return soon.”  As she wrote to me that she indeed wanted to give Baby a loving home, she thought it was no coincidence she found Villa Migelita because of this little hummingbird. “Could this hummingbird be Chevy’s message to her from the Rainbow Bridge?” Her thoughts were that she should have Baby in her home just as the hummingbirds would be arriving in April. Her whispered comment into Chevy’s ear that sad day were so fresh in her mind, a moment embedded in her heart for all eternity. So this story begins with an ending, an ending of a life of a treasured pet. Now Lisa was waiting to get Baby to her new home and shower love and kindness on her for the rest of her life. A dog’s life she was saving in Chevy’s memory, with the hummingbirds as the sign it was what she needed to do. Baby had not had an easy life up to this point but Lisa would to change that, along with all of us. We all were in this together, and we all felt a love that connected us through this one senior dog that would forever create a warm bond between women.

When Madeline heard that Lisa was  going to adopt Baby, all of us went into action. My friend Jo had offered to meet Madeline in central Florida and drive Baby to Kentucky. Marlene had friends who did pet transport and was checking on that angle. Meanwhile Baby had to be checked out by a veterinarian and my friends Kathy, Madeline and Marlene took her to the vet.11075068_10206163162735462_1383147525_n Poor Baby had many health problems from living outside on cold concrete all of her life. She had hot spots on her feet, she was callused on her legs, she was underweight.  The need of antibiotics along with tender loving care which had never been provided to her in her life was just a start. She was grateful, as she had left dreadful conditions and was given comfort for once in her life. Madeline continued to worry over the long trip to Kentucky and if Baby could adapt and withstand such a long journey. Lisa was on hold about getting Baby to her house as  the logistics were discussed. Jo wanted to drive and would have, but Marlene and Madeline decided to use a pet transport that both thought was reputable because they had used this man before. Well, poor Baby had another disagreeable experience with the use of this transport called  pet48llc,  the owner Bill Timmons in Ft. Pierce, Florida. He offers what sounds like a good package but when it came down to the actual transport Baby went though hell. Marlene and Madeline were told that Baby would leave on Friday morning of Good Friday, and be at Lisa’s home on Easter Sunday. What a wonderful gift for both Baby and Lisa, to arrive on  Easter Sunday! We all were on pins and needles when she left with Bill on Good Friday to go to Lisa in Kentucky, although he already was behind schedule because he left mid-day. Baby was clean, on antibiotics and had a new special blanket for her ride of three days. She had a new collar and leash in girly colors. She had spent a couple of days with Madeline being pampered. Baby had never known this kind of love in her life. She ended up with what she was used to, indifference. She suffered this drive with her stoic nature, and gentle spirit. It took over 80 plus hours for Baby to arrive in Kentucky to Lisa’s awaiting arms. 11125400_10206226250672621_305797601_nThe 6 of us were on Facebook all hours of the day watching as the drive that was to end with Baby in Kentucky on Easter Sunday, turned into a nightmare of many stops and a lot of lies from Bill. He went this way and that. Posting maps on his page that made no sense. He stopped to see his brother, a recreational stop not included in the plans he told them about. He was over 25 hours late to Lisa’s house! We were all were crying with sadness for poor Baby. She was in a crate way to small for her size, which he said was a crate for Great Dane …. it was not. This crate was against the hatchback of his car and she had no view nor circulation. She was in that crate for the entire time, along with some other dogs squeezed into the back o f his SUV. The only time she was out of the crate was for bathroom stops which Bill complained he had to take too many stops and this was why he was 25 hours late. He said posting a few photos on Facebook was causing him to get behind schedule. We were frantic and Marlene was super worried and finally called him to get a hotel which the girls would pay for. He declined and said he would sleep in his car. My assumption is that those dogs never left the crate at all, and he had the floors of the crates covered with mulch because these dogs did not have enough stops to use the bathroom, so they went in the crates. When Baby finally made it to Kentucky Lisa was frantic with worry. Baby was so happy to see her, and didn’t know what to do first, use the bathroom, or into her arms. It was like a meeting of soul mates, Baby knew she was home. Lisa had so much ready for her to be comfortable on the drive to her house in Kentucky. Her back seat  down with the blanket that Madeline had bought for her on the floor. Baby finally got to use the blanket after 80 hours in a small crate, Baby was comfortable and ready to begin her new life.

The next chapter of this journey was encouraging as Lisa brought Baby to her vet and was told Baby was strong, in good health and could live a lot longer. The only thing the vet said was a problem was a slight cough which she was given medication for. However, Baby started to become whiny and needed to go to the bathroom all the time at night. Poor Lisa was not getting any sleep. Baby was in distress and Lisa did not know why. She brought Baby to the vet again and Baby has some health problems that were not picked up by the vet in Florida nor the first vet Lisa saw. She has an enlarged heart and a tumor that is pushing against her trachea. Lisa broke down sobbing when she heard this sad news. She vowed to do everything to give Baby the best care she could. Baby’s breathing is labored. Lisa has many medications to give her, but she is fine with this as she knew when she adopted a senior dog this was to be expected. Bear her dog that was Chevy’s companion is slowly accepting Baby and they wander the farm all day chasing squirrels and birds. Even though Baby has health problems she is playing for the first time in her life. Baby has freedom now on Lisa’s farm for the first time in her life. All of us have been in contact daily since Baby arrived to be with Lisa. Lisa is doing a good job of handling the pressure she is under caring for a senior dog with health problems. Baby is living her life one day at a time, enjoying the sunshine and space she never had on that concrete patio. We all pray for Baby and Lisa to have more years together, as Baby will be managed with medication which Lisa is so graciously paying for without a complaint. Lisa had Chevy who had similar health problems, she feels that Baby is a gift from Chevy as they did not have enough time together on this Earth. We all enjoy the many lovely photos sent to us daily of Baby living in her new home. I will always be grateful that someone stepped in to help Baby continue life in comfort. The next time you adopt a dog please remember that an animal is for life, not to be discarded because you have to move or change your lifestyle. Baby got a second chance and for that all of us who participated in her adoption are forever grateful.

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Baby and Lisa when they first met

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Beautiful Baby

 

 

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Vet’s office

 

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Baby playing on Lisa’s farm

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Hip Hop Baby

 

 

 

I have a request for everyone. Please keep Baby and Lisa in your prayers. They have a difficult journey ahead. Lisa took on a dog with health problems and she is not complaining. She is stepping up for Baby and giving her the comfort she deserves in her twilight years. Soon the hummingbirds will arrive at Lisa’s farm in Kentucky, and Lisa can watch them knowing that Chevy sees them from his home over the Rainbow Bridge. Chevy would be proud of his Mommy Lisa because she will be looking at those hummingbirds with Baby by her side. That is a miracle for all of us. The miracle of how a hummingbird video on Villa Migelita page saved the life of an old dog. Yet I am not surprised as I have long known hummingbirds send me messages, now they have saved a life.

 

 

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Missing Taz

I lost an important connection to my deceased daughter on Christmas Eve. Taz ran away and a piece of my heart left with him. I was visiting the home of my friend’s brother and left him in the care of his mother while I walked to the grocery with my friend, his brother and his little daughter. I was told not to bring Taz as the store would not allow him in. I wanted to bring him, I could have had one of us stand outside with him. I will never forgive myself for not doing this, this is a moment I replay constantly in my mind. I probably will for the rest of my life, as this was the last time I saw Taz. He was sitting next to my friend’s mother, looking happy. I know I did not fear danger for my little Taz, but my inner voice spoke to me and I did not listen. Apparently the wife of the brother is an evil person who became enraged when her older daughter called and said a dog was in the house. She rushed home to her house and deliberately opened a door to her outdoor patio which had a decorative fence, but Taz could get through the slats and he took off. I really never even got a good look at this woman because we had not even been inside the house for more than 5 minutes before we left for the store, we were gone 20 minutes total. I was going to the store to buy the family some snacks and a bottle of booze for the evenings celebration. I wanted to be hospitable. Imagine how I felt when I found out what she did. I was in such distress and anguish, I went crazy with grief in the middle of the street. All the neighbors came outside and the woman will forever have to live with the knowledge that her neighbor’s knew what she did to an American. In Colombia they call this “chisme”, the talk of the community about others. They will talk chisme about her forever, and they all knew Taz was my connection to my deceased daughter because my Spanish is pretty good now, and I made that clear when I was crying in the streets “why would you do that to my innocent dog?” So they will think she is cursed also because of Taz’s connection to my daughter who is dead. She will get her karma but I will not get Taz back unless there is a miracle. We immediately left to go looking for Taz all over until the early morning hours. We never found him. I have continued looking for him still, using flyers, the internet and walking the streets and talking with people in the area. I have had no luck, and fear I will never see him again. Thinking of this makes my chest ache with pain, and my eyes fill with tears. He was no ordinary dog, and to me the single most important association to my daughter left in this world.1277577_542696502463087_1822762204_o

My daughter and I found Taz in the mountains of Tennessee on her 16th birthday. We were shopping, getting our nails done, having a special Mother/Daughter day. She had a summer birthday so she never really had parties with her school friends and we always spent our summers in the mountains. Her birthday celebrations were always small for the most part, and the time that we spent together during the summers go hand in hand with each year she grew older. Taz is a wonderful memory of those times. Taz became part of the celebration of her life. Looking back I realize she only had 4 more years of life to live from that day forth and Taz never was the same after her death just like I will never be the same. That is why I need to write this down. I mourn Taz like I mourn her.

We brought Taz back to our RV that day, having found him in a local store that had puppies from their Rat Terrier in a small kennel on display. It was just someone who needed to give those puppies to a good home. Misha fell in love with Taz, he was such a cute little thing and turned out to be super smart too. He had a little Chihuahua in him, and Misha and I thought he would turn out small and we could take him everywhere with us. We started taking him in my purse everywhere we went. Taz always knew to be quiet, he would lay quietly inside and not make a sound. Misha had him sleep with her and he developed a habit of pulling back the comforter with his paws and snuggling underneath really close to her legs every night. By the time the summer was over and we returned to South Florida he was trained and also knew many tricks which she taught him.

The year she was 16 is closely connected to Taz. She would come home from school to find him waiting anxiously for her. He would sit next to her as she had a snack and watched TV. This is when he learned his most fun little mannerism, the high-five. She would take a bite then offer Taz a bite after he would give her five. I have fond memories of the two of them sitting in front of her TV having their afternoon snack, Taz always on his hind legs, front legs in the air, paw reaching out towards her hand. As the year progressed Misha grew up and so did Taz. He was not a real small dog, like we thought he would be, but he still came everywhere with us. Misha would have friends sleep over and Taz was always in the spot under the covers at night laying next to her legs.

We went to the mountains one more time after Taz came into our life, the year she turned 17. I remember we took two cars to Tennessee that summer, Misha, Taz and I in one, and my ex-husband, my son with my two Collies along with the RV being pulled by the other car. It was a fun drive with Taz in Misha’s lap the entire time, Misha and I laughing and singing to CD’s she had made for the trip. Taz always was with her, she would carry him and he would put his little front paws on her forearm and hold on like a person. That summer was the last summer of really good times as life took over and things changed. Misha’s senior year was full of drama that only a teenage girl can bring into a home, and my ex and I split for the first time during that year. Taz remained steadfast in her life and was her constant companion until she got pregnant after her senior year was done, and then she moved out. Taz stayed with me, and has never been apart from me since. Misha came in and out of his life after she had my sweet granddaughter, and my granddaughter always asks for Taz when I am with her or I talk with her on the phone. I have photo’s of Taz looking at Amaya on the bed when she was just a baby, he knew Amaya was Misha’s and therefore loved her like he loved Misha.

When Misha passed I know Taz knew, because my granddaughter would visit without her. My granddaughter would come stay with me and he would follow her around and always be near wherever Amaya would be playing. Taz showed his feelings through his eyes. When I moved to Colombia and brought him on the plane in a crate, he never made a peep and just was happy to have me near, his eyes shone with happiness that wherever I was going he was going too. He has enjoyed his almost 3 years here in Colombia, the freedom he has had of running in the mountains with my other dogs, the life on my farm, chasing tarantula’s (yes Taz has a knack for digging up spiders or finding iguana’s), or any small creature. Rat Terrier’s are farm dogs, he actually killed some of my ducklings when I had my first hatchlings. I remember finding them, and Taz hiding from me because he knew he did wrong. He did what his genetics told him to do, and I forgave him and kept my ducklings safe from him after that.

Taz is terrified of water and thunderstorms. I feel like a mother who has lost her child, never to know again where they are. I can not sleep well, nor can I quit thinking about his fears. He is not a dog that can be friendly to someone who might try to help him. That is why I am so distraught. Taz might not allow someone to help him. He will keep looking for me, this I know. This is why I am so devastated, I was his world and he was mine. We have mourned Misha together and now he is gone too. The last time I went to Cali to look for him, all the flyers were pulled down, and no one had even seen him, and he had been cited before. I fear he is running and running looking for me, going fast to nowhere. Now I ask everyone to keep Taz in their thoughts, to send positive energy. I am trying one more thing. I have hired a guy who knows the streets, he will find Taz if anyone can. If he does not locate Taz, then I can do no more except pray Taz has a new home with lovely people who enjoy all the tricks he will show them for food. 292101_4236497676692_1013887719_n

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My Move to Colombia

Have you ever thought to yourself “I wonder what it is like to live in another country?” I did as soon as the travel bug hit me. I went on a school sponsored trip when I was ten to Europe. I read that silly book from so long ago “Coffee, Tea, or Me” when I was about twelve and then I re-read it! I was hooked. I wanted to be a stewardess. I relished the thought of traveling all over the world. However, I did all the things my parents wanted; made good grades, graduated early from high school, going right to college when I was only seventeen with a major in journalism. The thought of travel and working as a flight attendant was always in the back of my mind. Then one day I got really sick at college, sick enough that my parents came and packed me up and I left for the Spring quarter to go home and recuperate. I was back home and almost twenty so my mother suggested (because mom’s always know right?) I get some professional photos done and submit some applications to airlines. As it turned out only two airlines hired anyone at the age of twenty, National Airlines and Delta Air Lines. I submitted to both, threw in the photo’s and had an interview with Delta immediately.

At that interview I was a stand out, and not in a good way. I remember walking in with a dress that had a full skirt and Chinese style jacket. It was a very disco style dress with a skirt that would twirl when I danced. I had embraced the disco phase in college, was also a hair model, and I thought everyone dressed like me! As I looked around at every one of my fellow interviewees’ and they
looked back at me, I felt a little bit anxious. They all had on blue suits and white shirts, hair pulled back and black pumps. There I was in platform heels, a hairstyle that was short, wild,stylish and a disco dress! Needless to say I amused the interviewer’s immensely with my go for it “I dance disco in contests” attitude and got through the interview at the young age of nineteen and went on to be in the next class of flight attendants. My mother had always told me to “be an original not a carbon copy” and it worked. To this day I wonder why my mother let me wear what I wanted to that interview, as she never said a word to me about my choice of attire. Maybe she was letting me be an ‘original’ which worked out for me. I started training class and they called me ‘disco’ as I and one other girl were the youngest in the class, and we were kind of the ‘mascots’. I still remember my first years of flying as some of the best of my life as I grew to love travel and grew into a responsible young woman. The years flew by and I had a family but still worked part-time as a flight attendant. Towards the end of my career I flew international, finding these flights and layovers the most rewarding in my career. I had many layovers in South America and found all the countries I visited to be warm and welcoming. I could see myself living there, as the culture was inviting and the people friendly. After thirty years as a flight attendant I was able to retire. I missed the travel and my fellow co-workers but not the job itself. A job that is very hard on the body, not from just the time changes, but long hours and hard work.

Hair model days
Hair model days

Retired life was different, as I had been employed since I was fifteen. Then the worst happened. My marriage fell apart and my daughter was killed in a horrible hit and run. I was no longer that young confident flight attendant that grew up along with her career into a mother and working woman. I became a grieving wreck who did not know what the next day would bring. I was in shock for several months after my daughter was killed. I really do not remember a lot of those months, or how I got through them. My divorce was still going on, and it was nasty! I could never really grieve as something unfathomable was being thrown at me every day by my ex-husband and his lawyer. It was like he wanted to punish me for her death. I would never have thought the father of my children could be so cruel. This was a time I would never want to go back to. I woke up every morning wondering what would be next. During the week of the funeral preparations I saw my ex and his sister drive up to my house and put a note in my mailbox. It said “you did not deserve to be her mother”. I still think about why they did that, what if felt like to them to actually write such a despicable statement down and give it to me 3 days after I learned of her death? The hateful things going on kept me from allowing myself to grieve properly and I did not get real help until I moved and found a wonderful counselor here in Colombia. I became a person who was afraid. Apprehension became part of my existence. I always had been self-assured, very social and always ready to meet new people. Now I worried about everything, my mind would race with so much anxiety and heartache. A change was needed so I started taking little steps to do just that! I knew I had to get away from such a toxic environment, I prayed and meditated for answers. Then one came to me.

Watching a horse show at a restaurant
Watching a horse show at a restaurant

Enter my companion and partner. He was friends with a nanny I used for my children while flying. He heard about the terrible tragedy of my daughter’s death. He looked me up on Facebook, asked to be my friend. He is a Colombian American, who spent his first fifteen years growing up in Palmira the area I now live at in Colombia. We got to know one another and found we had much in common. We spent hours talking about life and dreams. Dreams that were similar; wanting a farm, the love of mountains and animals, the beauty of nature and solitude. He told me let’s take a trip to see Colombia. I had never been to this country and thought “why not?”. We arrived on Christmas day of 2010 in Bogotá, a city alight with Christmas decorations in vivid colors and music vibrating around the streets that was festive and enticing. I was impressed with the beauty of the season, a day I had dreaded for my own heavyhearted reasons, became a wonderful memory for me. We spent a couple of weeks traveling and ended up at his aunt’s for New Years Eve and Day. A delightful array of Colombian traditions awaited me. A meal is served at midnight and there is always lots of salsa dancing at any fiesta! New Years Day continued with more family and meals. I found myself embraced by his family that just met me. I wanted to feel alive and happy like this for the rest of my life! It had been too long since I had really smiled. Then off we went to Palmira the city in the Department of Palmira Valle Del Cauca, the agricultural center of Colombia and where my partner grew up. We took a carriage ride through the city, we rode a motorcycle around in the mountains, we visited the tourist areas nearby. I had the most wonderful time and my sadness was replaced for a few weeks with the joy of new beginnings. I realized I could live without fear if I let myself, and that I could live my life while honoring my daughter’s memory in the process. My children spent most of their summers in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, making beautiful memories of our time there with hummingbirds, hiking, tubing and nature. When I returned to the United States, we started to plan on going back to look at real estate. In late February we returned and I actually found a farm I wanted to buy. I started negotiations with the owner and putting into place all that I needed to do to move to another country.
102 year old great-grandfather
102 year old great-grandfather

How does one move to another country? Well, I just started researching the internet and found most answers there. I realized it is best to sell all of the possession’s you have and bring minimal items with you. I started selling everything; the house, my car, furniture, everything in my house, jewelry, clothes, basically all my material things that were not of special value to me. I looked into how to get my beloved pets into another country and I just did what I had to do! I look back at that time and wonder how did I do it? I think I was so traumatized that anything that kept me occupied was good. I could think about something other than my daughter being gone. Things began to fall into place as I slowly packed up my possession’s and made the final arrangements for my move to Colombia. I look back at what I accomplished in three months and just shake my head. I had strength I did not know I had.
Cali, Colombia
Cali, Colombia

I moved to Colombia in April of 2011, pets and partner with me and not knowing any Spanish! My belongings were to follow in a few weeks by cargo ship. I did have some problems when I arrived. My two large dogs were sent on a different airplane because of their weight and I could not get them for 24 hours. My dog Colleen was twelve years old and she was hoarse from crying when I finally was able to get them through all the inspections and paperwork. I was able to see them and comfort them, the airport workers gave them food and water, but it was very unfortunate for them and me. We also found out that the farm I was going to purchase had a mudslide near it right before I came and that deal fell through, which turned out to be a real blessing! However, we needed to find a place to live with our animals because my partner’s family home was not comfortable for us or the animals. We rented a little place in Santa Elena, a small Colombian town and the adventure truly began.
Having fun driving in the mountains!
Having fun driving in the mountains!
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My next blog will continue my story. I hope all who read will join my blog and share it. I can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/VillaMigelita. I will also write about my daughter’s accident which I am still waiting for the trial of her killer. It will be four years in January and there has still been no justice. It is a source of anguish to me, I pray for closure soon. The killer was found within a week when he took his car for repairs and is awaiting trial.